In support of National Apprenticeship Week 2021 (8-14 February), we caught up with Joel Collins, a recently graduated JTL apprentice and now an Electrical Design Engineer for a building services consultancy. Here, he explains why he chose his apprenticeship, what he learnt and what advice he’d give to anyone considering a similar path.
What made you decide to do an apprenticeship rather than take a different path?
I wanted to gain skills and knowledge while also working and getting paid to develop them. I worked hard at school and did well and although I had a few Sixth Form places I felt I wanted a more targeted learning approach and some more freedom. An apprenticeship gives you this and helps gain independence and life skills as well as knowledge for the job. It also makes you grow up quickly!
What did you like the most about your apprenticeship? Was there anything you disliked?
I was very lucky and worked with the same person my whole apprenticeship, we became good friends. He helped me through and taught me well. I enjoyed working with him and will be forever grateful for the time and effort he put in. There was nothing I particularly disliked, there are good days and bad days as with anything but the overall apprentice experience was highly positive.
What was the most interesting job you’ve ever worked on?
I did a large-scale hospital refurbishment and mains infrastructure work for large scale demolition works. This project was over a couple of years as I was just finishing my apprenticeship. I ran a portion of the job and managed a group of people. It was a huge challenge but a massive learning curve and it has helped me no end in my career.
What job position do you now hold and what does your role entail?
I am now an Electrical Design Engineer for a building services consultancy. I work in an office environment producing designs, drawings, and tender packs for every manner of building. I also undertake condition surveys and produce feasibility and budget schemes for clients before work takes place. I then manage the jobs on site once a contractor has been appointed to assist technically and manage the level of quality of their work.
What advice would you give to school leavers who might be uncertain about taking an apprenticeship?
I would say the biggest thing is to find a reputable employer that is going to look after you and give you career progression. I was very lucky with my employer and am hugely grateful for the opportunity they gave me. The other thing to strongly consider is your work ethic as it is a completely different environment to school. You will get out whatever you put in. But if you do work hard the sky really is the limit. I am now undertaking a degree to further my knowledge even more but have been earning the whole time.